By Solomon Asowata
Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, says it will begin flight operations to Johannesburg, South Africa and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates next month.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, announced the new routes at the inauguration of the airline’s Board of Directors on Wednesday in Ikeja.
He said Dubai, Johannesburg, London, Houston, Guangzhou and Mumbai would soon join the airline’s international route network while plans were also on to connect more cities within Nigeria.
Onyema said the airline had so far acquired four B777 aircraft for its long-haul operations with three already delivered ahead of the international operations.
He said Air Peace had placed a firm order with Boeing for 10 brand new B737 Max 8 aircraft and that it would continue to monitor the situation based on safety concerns raised about the aircraft.
Onyema added that the airline had also placed a firm order for 10 brand new Embraer 195-E2 jets and purchase right for 20 aircraft of the same model which would be delivered by May 2020.
Onyema said Air Peace was well aware of the hostilities faced by Nigerian carriers outside the country and was bracing up for the challenge through massive investment in equipment.
He urged the Federal Government to protect Nigerian airlines from the outrageous charges being imposed on them while operating outside the country or reciprocate such charges on foreign airlines flying into Nigeria.
According to him, Air Peace has lost over N1. 2 billion in the last one year in flying to countries in the West Coast of Africa such as Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, due to exorbitant charges.
“There is a gang up against Nigerian airlines. The Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) is geared towards fleecing Nigeria and nothing more.
“The government should reciprocate these charges to also discourage them from coming into Nigeria.
“Air Peace may soon go to court to ban some airlines from operating in Nigeria if the government fails to do something about this exploitation and unhealthy competition,” he said.
Onyema maintained that Air Peace was poised to dominate the African airspace and also compete with the legacy airlines following the acquisition of more aircraft for its flight services.
“The reason I started Air Peace was to create employment opportunities for Nigerians and help in national development because I know that all the violence and security challenges we are facing will reduce if our youths are positively engaged.
“I enjoin all Nigerians with means to invest in the country and help to create jobs to complement the efforts of the government,” he said.
NAN reports that the nine board members are Mr Allen Onyema, his wife Alice, Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN), Mr Mutiu Summonu, Mrs Eka Okoro, Mr Benjamin Adeyileka, Mr Mohammed Danjuma, Mrs Ejiro Eghagha and Mrs Oluwatoyin Olajide.